Fifty-six eager birders gathered in the early morning hours of Saturday, January 13th, at the Dockside Pier in Virginia Beach, awaiting the 8am launch of the Bay Princess, chartered to take us and around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Islands. Trip organizer Doug Rogers had cast a wide net, luring folks from the Monticello Bird Club, Blue Ridge Young Birders, and the bird clubs of Augusta, Richmond, Roanoake, Rockingham and Williamsburg to brave the bay waters in search of sea birds and ducks. Due to forecasts of increasing winds because of the approaching cold (!) front, all participating birders had gotten the phone tree message to be at the pier an hour early, and the Bay Princess indeed set out at 8am under sunny skies.
Birders gathered on the Bay Princess’ bow, thankful for Gabriel Mapel’s boldly broadcasting all the sightings that he and fellow young birders picked out immediately. Gabriel expertly telegraphed the locations as well, helping all mere mortal birders to get their binoculars on the frequent fly-bys of Red-breasted Mergansers and Red-throated Loons. He also ID’ed the black dots on the water for all to locate and, in some cases, add to birding life lists.
At about the midway point of the four hour boat trip, the predicted cold weather front loomed ahead. Jeannie Holden captured the ominous spectacle of a cargo ship backed by the foreboding, yet spectacularly beautiful front.
Braving the 30 degree temperature drop, considerable wind gusts, and rolling seas that accompanied our return ride to dockside, we added multiple clothing layers, braced our sea legs, and were treated to a spectacular day of seabird sightings. For a complete list of all birds spotted and to view some great bird and duck photos, click on the three eBird links that follow, diligently compiled by Baxter Beamer. Lynhaven Inlet, CBBT-Virginia Beach, CBBT-Northampton Co.
A special shout-out of thanks to Gabriel Mapel for his magnificent birding guidance, to Baxter Beamer for compiling the eBird lists and sending them to everyone, and finally to Doug Rogers for so expertly herding (birding) cats and organizing this splendid trip. I know Doug has already booked the trip for Jan. 19, 2019…hope you’ll join us!